by Jon Soltz / VetVoice / Monday, September 8, 2008
Last week’s Republican convention sure made every superficial effort to come off as pro-Troop and pro-Veteran. And, of course, the media ate it up, not challenging a single thing. But to those of us who did serve, it was offense after offense after offense. Let’s count the ways:
McCain Didn’t Mention Veterans’ Care: Maybe it’s because he has a terrible record, but not once in John McCain’s speech did he talk about taking care of those who served their nation in the military. With exploding rates of PTSD, suicide, homelessness among veterans. With ridiculous wait times for veterans seeking care, and a VA that every major vets group says is woefully underfunded. With administrators dumping vets out of the veterans care system by diagnosing them with a lesser mental injury than they have. Not. A. Single. Word. And, with the shame of…
Walter Reed: What a slap in the face. The first photo that John McCain stood in front of was Walter Reed. Walter Reed Middle School in North Hollywood, California. Chalk it up to someone in the campaign not knowing the difference between the two, but what I find even more offensive is this: At some point John McCain asked his campaign what was going to be on the screen behind him. And someone told him the first picture would be Walter Reed Army Medical Center. John McCain didn’t object – even though he voted against closing tax loopholes to help fund military hospitals like Walter Reed. But that wasn’t the only bit of fake imagery….
“Phony Soldiers”: For the amount that Rush Limbaugh likes to rant on “phony soldiers,” there was a big silence and others from the mainstream media on the fact that the McCain campaign used stock footage of actors pretending to be soldiers in a video, intended to show how pro-military McCain is. It’s actually kind of fitting – phony soldiers to promote a phony record on military and veterans’ issues.
Speaking of phony: Remember that faux-outrage from the McCain campaign when General Wesley Clark dared to point out that being a POW isn’t a qualification for being Commander in Chief? Boy, the McCain campaign wouldn’t let up on that. Where were they when Fred Thompson said the same exact thing?
Real outrage: But, there were some things to be angry about. First, Sarah Palin repeatedly saying that her son was deploying for Iraq on September 11. First, not only is this not exactly true, but if she sincerely believed it to be true, she would be knowingly violating Operational Security (OPSEC), which says you should never tell the enemy when people and units are going to be landing in Iraq. Thankfully, Palin was fudging the truth, and not endangering the troops. So, she either knew she wasn’t telling the truth, or she thought she was and thought violating OPSEC was worth the political points. Second, there’s the fact that right after the Republican convention, the party produced a bunch of flags that they stole from the Democratic convention in Denver, in an attempt to “prove” the Democrats were throwing out the flag. In fact, workers in Denver were collecting all the flags left at Invesco Field, to send to community events around the country, where other patriotic Americans might want to wave the flag. So, to promote a complete fabrication, Republicans stole flags that some five-year old kid might have wanted to wave on Main Street. Stay classy…
It’s things like this that caused those troops deployed to donate to Obama by a 6-1 ratio.
Though many in the media may lap up the lies, the distortions, and fake representations, troops certainly don’t. We know the difference between fantasy and reality.
And that brings me to the last point. Speaker after speaker told the convention that the “surge worked” and we were on our way to “victory.”
Except not so much. Bob Woodward, in his new book, explains what those of us in the military always knew – commanders on the ground were against the surge, and knew it would not work strategically. And, in fact, it hasn’t worked in stabilizing Iraq’s internal political problems, hasn’t aided our global strategy, or helped strengthen our military.
But, as the President explained to General Abizaid, and others, success wasn’t the point of the surge – the APPEARANCE of success was the purpose. Quoting Woodward’s finding, “A surge would “also help here at home, since for many the measure of success is reduction in violence,” Bush said [to Abizaid].”
In short, Bush knew that since less than one-percent of America had served in the wars, and most commentators were ignorant about what constitutes true military and strategic success, a reduction of violence could be sold as “success,” even if it was not.
And that, perhaps, was the biggest insult to those of us in the military, out of many, coming from the Republican National Convention.